Competencies 101 – Part III – The second bucket: Influencer engagement!

In the last column, I stated the competencies I feel are critical under the first bucket (Strategy). I am happy that few of you called in to generally discuss the importance of design thinking and ethics in PR. Will certainly have an elaborate column on these two points very soon. So let’s explore the second of the four buckets (strategy, influencer engagement, content curation, and Digital PR) that I feel will help professionals deliver significantly better. 

The second bucket is influencer engagement. 

With the pervasiveness of digital modes of communication, availability of authentic, believable and relevant content has become fundamental. The agility with which a brand can create content and stay relevant can define its success. The content creation process can be time consuming. Here’s where influencers (key opinion leaders, blogger, subject matter experts, celebrities with large followers, thought leaders etc.) can play a significant role. These influencers know the kind of content their followers want and if they are able to integrate your brand message well, your job is done! If they are immersed well in your brand philosophy, influencers can create content that is both thoughtful and engaging. 

So let me share with you, what I feel are a few competencies or traits that are required by a PR professional to really build a good influencer network, engage with them meaningfully and build on your earned social media potential.

  1. Networking 

Most of the PR professionals are natural networkers. The success of a PR person is directly related to the kind of associations he/she has and what value they bring to these associations. In today’s digital world, any and every person can be an influencer or micro influencer. A constant focus on building these networks will only help increase the reach and potential of connecting with thought leaders and KOL’s.

  1. Business connect

Gone are the days when for a PR professional media lists with good names was a key ammo. Today, in a world where digital is becoming the most prevalent platform, sectorial thought leaders, subject matter experts, academia, etc., are the real advocates of your brand. One positive from this set gets you going on the social media. PR professionals need to up the game and get in to relevant forums even if it is to just network with these business experts. I have personally done this across business platforms that are relevant to Godrej and this has actually helped connect with some great people who are truly aligned to our brand purpose.

  1. Peoples person / Social attributes

Being social online is also important. Recently, I was speaking at a communications conference with over 100 PR professionals in the audience. I asked the crowd a simple question – How many of you are on social media (Twitter, Li, Insta or FB)? Almost every one raised their hands. Which was good. Now the embarrassing moment was when I asked the second question – How many of you have enough followers to really set narratives. The general response was – we have never done enough for our own handles. Guys it is about time that every PR professional takes this seriously and spreads his/her reach. Regular conversations with the world help!

  1. Research and analysis

In your endeavor to build a network of influencers, it is absolutely important as to where are you playing. In an influencer pyramid, the top 10 percent are going to be the big celebs, social media sensations who have millions of followers. However from an earned social media perspectives, while they are good, they will charge! The bottom 60 percent are what I call the wannabees! They are the not so serious ones who dabble with social media here and there and can be comfortably ignored. However, the real gig is with the 30 percent content hungry, association hungry, serious bloggers and influencers who can really give the reach and impressions. Try it. You will be amazed. But to get them on your network, an ability to research them, figure their expertise objectively, and rank them basis their reach, needs an in-depth understanding of the metrics and realistic measures.

In part 4 of this column, I shall take up the third bucket viz. Content curation. We shall discuss the competencies required to be a good content curator.

Sujit M Patil, ABC on FacebookSujit M Patil, ABC on LinkedinSujit M Patil, ABC on Twitter
Sujit M Patil, ABC
Sujit Patil is Vice President and Head Corporate Brand & Communications, Godrej Industries Limited and Associate Companies

As a part of the Godrej Leadership Forum, Sujit is responsible for managing and building Godrej reputation across diverse stakeholders.

Listed as India’s top ten men in corporate communications by Reputation Today, he was featured on the PR Week Global Power Book, the definitive guide to PR industry’s most influential operators around the world. In 2018, 2019, 2020, and most recently in 2021 Sujit was listed fourth time in a row on the Holmes Report’s Influence 100 research and listing of the world’s most influential in-house marketing and communications professionals. In 2020 he was recognized as the Corporate Communications professional of the year at IPRCCA. He has been featured among top 25 on Reputation Today’s list of 100 most important professionals in Indian PR and corporate communications, Exchange4media’s Top 100 Influential Game Changers list and Adgully powerful influencers list for 2020 and 2021.

Apart from being a speaker and jury at various national and international bodies such as the World Communication Forum, Davos, AMEC, ICCO, PR Newsweek Asia, Public Affairs Asia, etc., Sujit is a part of the prestigious Arthur W Page Society. He volunteers as a guest faculty at various B-Schools, is a weekend farmer, loves travelling, understanding cultures and experimenting with new cuisines.

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